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1.  Genetic and environmental influences on non-specific neck pain in early adolescence: A classical twin study 
Prevalence of neck pain has increased among adolescents. The origins of adult chronic neck pain may lie in late childhood, but for early prevention, more information is needed about its aetiology. We investigated the relative roles of genetic and environmental factors in early adolescent neck pain with a classic twin study.
Frequency of neck pain was assessed with a validated pain questionnaire in a population-based sample of nearly 1800 pairs of 11–12-year-old Finnish twins. Twin pair similarity for neck pain was quantified by polychoric correlations, and variance components were estimated with biometric structural equation modelling.
Prevalence of neck pain reported at least once monthly was 38% and at least once weekly 16%, with no significant differences between gender or zygosity. A greater polychoric correlation in liability to neck pain was found in monozygotic (0.67) than for dizygotic pairs (0.38), suggesting strong genetic influences. Model-fitting indicated that 68% (95% CI 62 to 74) of the variation in liability to neck pain could be attributed to genetic effects, with the remainder attributed to unshared environmental effects. No evidence for sex-specific genetic effects or for sex differences in the magnitude of genetic effects was found.
Genetic and unique environmental factors seem to play the most important roles in liability to neck pain in early adolescence. Future research should be directed to identifying pathways for genetic influences on neck pain and in exploring effectiveness of interventions that target already identified environmental risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3582751  PMID: 23139100
neck pain; heritability; genetic; risk factor; child; adolescent; musculoskeletal pain
2.  Role of Nicotine Dependence in the Association between the Dopamine Receptor Gene DRD3 and Major Depressive Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98199.
The aims of this study were to analyze associations of dopamine receptor genes (DRD1-5) with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and nicotine dependence (ND), and to investigate whether ND moderates genetic influences on MDD.
The sample was ascertained from the Finnish Twin Cohort. Twin pairs concordant for smoking history were recruited along with their family members, as part of the multisite Nicotine Addiction Genetics consortium. Genetic association analyses were based on 1428 adults. Total of 70 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms within the dopamine receptor genes were genotyped and analyzed for association with MDD, ND, and MD-ND co-morbidity. Individual level logistic regression analyses were based on 1296 adults with data on ND and MDD diagnoses, as well as on dopamine receptor genotypes adjusted for sex, age, and alcohol use. Four independent samples, such as population-based and case-control samples, were used for replication.
Rs2399496, located 1.5 kb downstream of DRD3, showed suggestive association for MDD (p = 0.00076) and significant association for MDD-ND co-morbidity (p = 0.000079). Suggestive gene-(rs2399496) by-ND-interaction justified analyses by genetic risk variant and ND status. Individuals with ND and two minor alleles (AA) of rs2399496 had almost six-fold risk for MDD (OR 5.74, 95%CI 3.12–10.5, p = 9.010e-09) compared to individuals without ND and with two major alleles (TT).
Significant association between a variant downstream of DRD3 and a co-morbid MDD-ND phenotype was detected. Our results further suggest that nicotine dependence may potentiate the influence of the DRD3 genetic variant on MDD.
PMCID: PMC4057087  PMID: 24927283
3.  The Association between DRD2/ANKK1 and Genetically Informed Measures of Alcohol Use and Problems 
Addiction biology  2012;18(3):523-536.
In 1990, Blum and colleagues first reported an association between DRD2 and alcoholism. While there have been subsequent replications of this genetic association, there have also been numerous studies that failed to detect an association between DRD2 and alcohol dependence. We propose that one aspect contributing to this inconsistency is the variation in alcohol phenotype used across studies.
Within the population based Finnish twin sample, FinnTwin16, we previously performed multivariate twin analyses to extract latent genetic factors which account for the variation across seven measures of alcohol consumption (frequency of drinking, frequency × quantity, frequency of heavy drinking, frequency of intoxication, and maximum drinks in a 24 hour period) and problems (the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index-RAPI and the Mälmö-modified Michigan Alcohol Screen Test - MmMAST) in 3,065 twins. In the present study, we examined the association between thirty-one DRD2/ANKK1 SNPs and the genetic factor scores generated by twin analyses in a subset of FinnTwin16 (n=602). We focus on two of the genetic factors: a general alcohol consumption and problems factor score which represents shared genetic variance across alcohol measures, and an alcohol problems genetic factor score which loads onto the two indices of problematic drinking (MAST and RAPI).
After correction for multiple testing across SNPs and phenotypes, of the thirty-one SNPs genotyped across DRD2/ANKK1, one SNP (rs10891549) showed significant association with the general alcohol consumption and problems factor score (p=0.004), and four SNPs (rs10891549, rs1554929, rs6275, rs6279), representing 2 independent signals after accounting for LD, showed significant association with the alcohol problems genetic factor score (p=0.005, p=0.005, p=0.003, p=0.003).
In this study, we provide additional positive evidence for the association between DRD2/ANKK1 and alcohol outcomes, including frequency of drinking and drinking problems. Additionally, post hoc analyses indicate stronger association signals using genetic factor scores than individual measures, which suggests that accounting for the genetic architecture of the alcohol measures reduces genetic heterogeneity in alcohol dependence outcomes in this sample and enhances the ability to detect association.
PMCID: PMC3522787  PMID: 22970887
4.  Associations of physical activity, fitness, and body composition with heart rate variability–based indicators of stress and recovery on workdays: a cross-sectional study 
The purpose of this study was to investigate how physical activity (PA), cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and body composition are associated with heart rate variability (HRV)-based indicators of stress and recovery on workdays. Additionally, we evaluated the association of objectively measured stress with self-reported burnout symptoms.
Participants of this cross-sectional study were 81 healthy males (age range 26–40 y). Stress and recovery on workdays were measured objectively based on HRV recordings. CRF and anthropometry were assessed in laboratory conditions. The level of PA was based on a detailed PA interview (MET index [MET-h/d]) and self-reported activity class.
PA, CRF, and body composition were significantly associated with levels of stress and recovery on workdays. MET index (P < 0.001), activity class (P = 0.001), and CRF (P = 0.019) were negatively associated with stress during working hours whereas body fat percentage (P = 0.005) was positively associated. Overall, 27.5% of the variance of total stress on workdays (P = 0.001) was accounted for by PA, CRF, and body composition. Body fat percentage and body mass index were negatively associated with night-time recovery whereas CRF was positively associated. Objective work stress was associated (P = 0.003) with subjective burnout symptoms.
PA, CRF, and body composition are associated with HRV-based stress and recovery levels, which needs to be taken into account in the measurement, prevention, and treatment of work-related stress. The HRV-based method used to determine work-related stress and recovery was associated with self-reported burnout symptoms, but more research on the clinical importance of the methodology is needed.
PMCID: PMC3997193  PMID: 24742265
Body composition; Body fat percentage; BMI; Cardiorespiratory fitness; HRV; Physical activity; Recovery; Working hours; Work stress
5.  Deletion of TOP3β, a component of FMRP-containing mRNPs, contributes to neurodevelopmental disorders 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):1228-1237.
Implicating particular genes in the generation of complex brain and behavior phenotypes requires multiple lines of evidence. The rarity of most high impact genetic variants typically precludes the possibility of accruing statistical evidence that they are associated with a given trait. We show here that the enrichment of a rare Chromosome 22q11.22 deletion in a recently expanded Northern Finnish sub-isolate enables the detection of association between TOP3β and both schizophrenia and cognitive impairment. Biochemical analysis of TOP3β revealed that this topoisomerase is a component of cytosolic messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) and is catalytically active on RNA. The recruitment of TOP3β to mRNPs was independent of RNA cis-elements and was coupled to the co-recruitment of FMRP, the disease gene product in fragile X mental retardation syndrome (FXS). Thus, we uncover a novel role for TOP3β in mRNA metabolism and provide several lines of evidence implicating it in neurodevelopmental disorders.
PMCID: PMC3986889  PMID: 23912948
6.  A Study of Sedentary Behaviour in the Older Finnish Twin Cohort: A Cross Sectional Analysis 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:209140.
The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of age, sex, and body mass index (BMI) on total sitting time among the Finnish twin cohort. Also, heritability and environmental factors were analysed. The final sample included 6713 twin individuals 53–67 years of age (46% men). Among them there were 1940 complete twin pairs (732 monozygotic [MZ] and 1208 dizygotic [DZ] twin pairs). Sedentary behaviour was queried with a self-reported questionnaire with multiple-choice questions about sitting time at different domains. The mean total sitting time per day was 6 hours 41 minutes (standard deviation: 2 hours 41 minutes). The total sitting time was less in women than in men (P = 0.002). Older age was associated with less total sitting time (P < 0.001). Those with higher body mass index had higher total sitting time in age and sex adjusted analysis (P < 0.001). MZ pairs were more similar for sitting time than DZ pairs, with initial estimates of heritability for the total sitting time of 35%.The influence of shared environmental factors was negligible (1%), while most (64%) of the variation could be ascribed to unique environmental factors, the latter including measurement error.
PMCID: PMC4009300  PMID: 24822182
7.  Factors behind Leisure-Time Physical Activity Behavior Based on Finnish Twin Studies: The Role of Genetic and Environmental Influences and the Role of Motives 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:931820.
Different approaches are being taken to clarify the role of various factors in the development of physical activity behaviors. Genetic studies are a new area of physical activity research and also the motives for physical activity have been widely studied. The purpose of this paper is to review the findings emerging from the longitudinal genetic studies on leisure-time physical activity and to evaluate the associations between motivational factors and leisure-time physical activity. The focus is to review recent findings of longitudinal Finnish twin studies. The results of the latest longitudinal Finnish twin studies point to the existence of age-specific genetic and environmental influences on leisure-time physical activity. Variations in environmental factors seem to explain the observed deterioration in leisure-time physical activity levels. A decline in genetic influences is seen first from adolescence to young adulthood and again from the age of thirty to the mid-thirties. In the Finnish twin participants, mastery, physical fitness, and psychological state were the major motivation factors associated with consistent leisure-time physical activity behavior. The results also indicate that intrinsic motivation factors may be important for engagement in leisure-time physical activity.
PMCID: PMC3997869  PMID: 24809061
8.  Cause-specific mortality of 1-year survivors of subarachnoid hemorrhage 
Neurology  2013;80(5):481-486.
To assess long-term, cause-specific mortality rates and rate ratios of the patients alive at 1 year after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).
The population-based, prospective, cohort study with a nested case-control design consisted of 64,349 persons (aged 25–74 years at enrollment) who participated in the National FINRISK Study between 1972 and 2007. Four hundred thirty-seven SAH cases, 233 one-year SAH survivors, and their matched intrinsic controls were identified and followed up until the end of 2009 through the nationwide Finnish Causes of Death Register. All-cause mortality rates and rate ratios of the 1-year SAH survivors and controls were the main outcome measures.
Eighty-eight (37.8%) of 233 one-year SAH survivors died during the total follow-up time of 2,487 person-years (median 8.6 years, range 0.1–35.8 years). The 1-year SAH survivors had a hazard ratio of 1.96 (95% confidence interval 1.57–2.47) for death compared with the matched general population with 10 controls for each SAH survivor. One-year SAH survivors had up to 31 additional deaths per 1,000 person-years compared with controls with minimal cerebrovascular risk factors. The higher long-term risk of death among SAH survivors was attributed solely to cerebrovascular diseases, and most important modifiable risk factors for death were smoking, high systolic blood pressure (≥159 mm Hg), and high cholesterol levels (≥7.07 mmol/L).
One-year SAH survivors have excess mortality, which is attributed to an exceptional risk of deadly cerebrovascular events. Aggressive post-SAH cerebrovascular risk factor intervention strategies are highly warranted.
PMCID: PMC3590048  PMID: 23303843
9.  A Comparison of Anthropometric, Metabolic, and Reproductive Characteristics of Young Adult Women from Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex Twin Pairs 
Background: Prenatal exposure to androgens has been linked to masculinization of several traits. We aimed to determine whether putative female intra-uterine exposure to androgens influences anthropometric, metabolic, and reproductive parameters using a twin design.
Methods: Two cohorts of Finnish twins born in 1975–1979 and 1983–1987 formed the basis for the longitudinal FinnTwin16 (FT16) and FinnTwin12 (FT12) studies. Self-reported anthropometric characteristics, disease status, and reproductive history were compared between 679 same-sex (SS) and 789 opposite-sex (OS) female twins (mean age ± SD: 34 ± 1.1) from the wave 5 of data collection in FT16. Serum lipid and lipoprotein subclass concentrations measured by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy were compared in 226 SS and 169 OS female twins (mean age ± SD: 24 ± 2.1) from the wave 4 of data collection in FT12 and FT16.
Results: Anthropometric measures, the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes mellitus type 2 did not differ significantly between females from SS and OS twin pairs at age 34. Similarly, the prevalence of infertility, age at first pregnancy and number of induced and spontaneous abortions did not differ significantly between these two groups of women. The serum lipid and lipoprotein profile did not differ between females from SS and OS twins at age 24.
Conclusion: We found no evidence that androgen overexposure of the female fetus affects obesity, metabolic profile, or reproductive health in young adult females. However, these results do not exclude the possibility that prenatal androgen exposure in females could be adversely associated with these phenotypes later in life.
PMCID: PMC3945783  PMID: 24639667
prenatal androgen exposure; twin testosterone transfer hypothesis; opposite-sex twin pairs; anthropometrics; reproductive history; lipoprotein profile
10.  A genome-wide association study of anorexia nervosa 
Boraska, Vesna | Franklin, Christopher S | Floyd, James AB | Thornton, Laura M | Huckins, Laura M | Southam, Lorraine | Rayner, N William | Tachmazidou, Ioanna | Klump, Kelly L | Treasure, Janet | Lewis, Cathryn M | Schmidt, Ulrike | Tozzi, Federica | Kiezebrink, Kirsty | Hebebrand, Johannes | Gorwood, Philip | Adan, Roger AH | Kas, Martien JH | Favaro, Angela | Santonastaso, Paolo | Fernández-Aranda, Fernando | Gratacos, Monica | Rybakowski, Filip | Dmitrzak-Weglarz, Monika | Kaprio, Jaakko | Keski-Rahkonen, Anna | Raevuori, Anu | Van Furth, Eric F | Slof-Op t Landt, Margarita CT | Hudson, James I | Reichborn-Kjennerud, Ted | Knudsen, Gun Peggy S | Monteleone, Palmiero | Kaplan, Allan S | Karwautz, Andreas | Hakonarson, Hakon | Berrettini, Wade H | Guo, Yiran | Li, Dong | Schork, Nicholas J. | Komaki, Gen | Ando, Tetsuya | Inoko, Hidetoshi | Esko, Tõnu | Fischer, Krista | Männik, Katrin | Metspalu, Andres | Baker, Jessica H | Cone, Roger D | Dackor, Jennifer | DeSocio, Janiece E | Hilliard, Christopher E | O’Toole, Julie K | Pantel, Jacques | Szatkiewicz, Jin P | Taico, Chrysecolla | Zerwas, Stephanie | Trace, Sara E | Davis, Oliver SP | Helder, Sietske | Bühren, Katharina | Burghardt, Roland | de Zwaan, Martina | Egberts, Karin | Ehrlich, Stefan | Herpertz-Dahlmann, Beate | Herzog, Wolfgang | Imgart, Hartmut | Scherag, André | Scherag, Susann | Zipfel, Stephan | Boni, Claudette | Ramoz, Nicolas | Versini, Audrey | Brandys, Marek K | Danner, Unna N | de Kovel, Carolien | Hendriks, Judith | Koeleman, Bobby PC | Ophoff, Roel A | Strengman, Eric | van Elburg, Annemarie A | Bruson, Alice | Clementi, Maurizio | Degortes, Daniela | Forzan, Monica | Tenconi, Elena | Docampo, Elisa | Escaramís, Geòrgia | Jiménez-Murcia, Susana | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rajewski, Andrzej | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila | Slopien, Agnieszka | Hauser, Joanna | Karhunen, Leila | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Slagboom, P Eline | Tortorella, Alfonso | Maj, Mario | Dedoussis, George | Dikeos, Dimitris | Gonidakis, Fragiskos | Tziouvas, Konstantinos | Tsitsika, Artemis | Papezova, Hana | Slachtova, Lenka | Martaskova, Debora | Kennedy, James L. | Levitan, Robert D. | Yilmaz, Zeynep | Huemer, Julia | Koubek, Doris | Merl, Elisabeth | Wagner, Gudrun | Lichtenstein, Paul | Breen, Gerome | Cohen-Woods, Sarah | Farmer, Anne | McGuffin, Peter | Cichon, Sven | Giegling, Ina | Herms, Stefan | Rujescu, Dan | Schreiber, Stefan | Wichmann, H-Erich | Dina, Christian | Sladek, Rob | Gambaro, Giovanni | Soranzo, Nicole | Julia, Antonio | Marsal, Sara | Rabionet, Raquel | Gaborieau, Valerie | Dick, Danielle M | Palotie, Aarno | Ripatti, Samuli | Widén, Elisabeth | Andreassen, Ole A | Espeseth, Thomas | Lundervold, Astri | Reinvang, Ivar | Steen, Vidar M | Le Hellard, Stephanie | Mattingsdal, Morten | Ntalla, Ioanna | Bencko, Vladimir | Foretova, Lenka | Janout, Vladimir | Navratilova, Marie | Gallinger, Steven | Pinto, Dalila | Scherer, Stephen | Aschauer, Harald | Carlberg, Laura | Schosser, Alexandra | Alfredsson, Lars | Ding, Bo | Klareskog, Lars | Padyukov, Leonid | Finan, Chris | Kalsi, Gursharan | Roberts, Marion | Logan, Darren W | Peltonen, Leena | Ritchie, Graham RS | Barrett, Jeffrey C | Estivill, Xavier | Hinney, Anke | Sullivan, Patrick F | Collier, David A | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Bulik, Cynthia M
Molecular psychiatry  2010;16(9):10.1038/mp.2010.107.
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex and heritable eating disorder characterized by dangerously low body weight. Neither candidate gene studies nor an initial genome wide association study (GWAS) have yielded significant and replicated results. We performed a GWAS in 2,907 cases with AN from 14 countries (15 sites) and 14,860 ancestrally matched controls as part of the Genetic Consortium for AN (GCAN) and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 3 (WTCCC3). Individual association analyses were conducted in each stratum and meta-analyzed across all 15 discovery datasets. Seventy-six (72 independent) SNPs were taken forward for in silico (two datasets) or de novo (13 datasets) replication genotyping in 2,677 independent AN cases and 8,629 European ancestry controls along with 458 AN cases and 421 controls from Japan. The final global meta-analysis across discovery and replication datasets comprised 5,551 AN cases and 21,080 controls. AN subtype analyses (1,606 AN restricting; 1,445 AN binge-purge) were performed. No findings reached genome-wide significance. Two intronic variants were suggestively associated: rs9839776 (P=3.01×10−7) in SOX2OT and rs17030795 (P=5.84×10−6) in PPP3CA. Two additional signals were specific to Europeans: rs1523921 (P=5.76×10−6) between CUL3 and FAM124B and rs1886797 (P=8.05×10−6) near SPATA13. Comparing discovery to replication results, 76% of the effects were in the same direction, an observation highly unlikely to be due to chance (P= 4×10−6), strongly suggesting that true findings exist but that our sample, the largest yet reported, was underpowered for their detection. The accrual of large genotyped AN case-control samples should be an immediate priority for the field.
PMCID: PMC3859494  PMID: 21079607
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; GWAS; genome-wide association study; body mass index; metabolic
11.  Utilizing Twins as Controls for Non-Twin Case-Materials in Genome Wide Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83101.
Twin registries around the globe have collected DNA samples from large numbers of monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The twin sample collections are frequently used as controls in disease-specific studies together with non-twins. This approach is unbiased under the hypothesis that twins and singletons are comparable in terms of allele frequencies; i.e. there are no genetic variants associated with being a twin per se. To test this hypothesis we performed a genome-wide association study comparing the allele frequency of 572,352 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1,413 monozygotic (MZ) and 5,451 dizygotic (DZ) twins with 3,720 healthy singletons. Twins and singletons have been genotyped using the same platform. SNPs showing association with being a twin at P-value < 1 × 10-5 were selected for replication analysis in 1,492 twins (463 MZ and 1,029 DZ) and 1,880 singletons from Finland. No SNPs reached genome-wide significance (P-value < 5 × 10-8) in the main analysis combining MZ and DZ twins. In a secondary analysis including only DZ twins two SNPs (rs2033541 close to ADAMTSL1 and rs4149283 close to ABCA1) were genome-wide significant after meta-analysis with the Finnish population. The estimated proportion of variance on the liability scale explained by all SNPs was 0.08 (P-value=0.003) when MZ and DZ were considered together and smaller for MZ (0.06, P-value=0.10) compared to DZ (0.09, P-value=0.003) when analyzed separately. In conclusion, twins and singletons can be used in genetic studies together with general population samples without introducing large bias. Further research is needed to explore genetic variances associated with DZ twinning.
PMCID: PMC3858365  PMID: 24340086
12.  Genetic and environmental influences on eating behaviors in 2.5- and 9-year-old children: a longitudinal twin study 
Eating behaviors during childhood are related both to children’s diet quality and to their weight status. A better understanding of the determinants of eating behavior during childhood is essential for carrying out effective dietary interventions.
We assessed the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to variations in selected eating behaviors in early and late childhood. Information on eating behaviors came from questionnaires administered to parents of children participating in the Quebec Newborn Twin Study when the twins were 2.5 and 9 years old (n = 692 children). Dichotomous variables were derived and analyzed using structural equation modeling, as part of a classic twin study design. We performed univariate and bivariate longitudinal analyses to quantify sources of variation and covariation across ages, for several eating behavior traits.
We found moderate to strong heritability for traits related to appetite such as eating too much, not eating enough and eating too fast. Univariate analysis estimates varied from 0.71 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.87) to 0.89 (0.75, 0.96) in younger children and from 0.44 (0.18, 0.66) to 0.56 (0.28, 0.78) in older children. Bivariate longitudinal analyses indicated modest to moderate genetic correlations across ages (rA varying from 0.34 to 0.58). Common genetic influences explained 17% to 43% of the phenotypic correlation between 2.5 and 9 years for these appetite-related behaviors. In 9-year-old children, food acceptance traits, such as refusing to eat and being fussy about food, had high heritability estimates, 0.84 (0.63, 0.94) and 0.85 (0.59, 0.96) respectively, while in younger children, the shared environment (i.e., common to both twins) contributed most to phenotypic variance. Variances in meal-pattern-related behaviors were mostly explained by shared environmental influences.
Genetic predispositions explain a large part of the variations in traits related to appetite during childhood, though our results suggest that as children get older, appetite-related behaviors become more sensitive to environmental influences outside the home. Still, for several traits environmental influences shared by twins appear to have the largest relative importance. This finding supports the notion that familial context has considerable potential to influence the development of healthy eating habits throughout childhood.
PMCID: PMC4029536  PMID: 24313977
Eating behaviors; Heritability; Environmental influences; Children; Twins
13.  Pubertal Testosterone Predicts Mental Rotation Performance of Young Adult Males 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2012;37(11):1791-1800.
Robust sex differences in some spatial abilities that favor males have raised the question of whether testosterone contributes to those differences. There is some evidence for prenatal organizational effects of testosterone on male-favoring spatial abilities, but not much is known about the role of pubertal testosterone levels on adult cognitive abilities. We studied the association between pubertal testosterone (at age 14) and cognitive performance in young adulthood (at age 21–23), assessing male-favoring, female-favoring, and sex-neutral cognitive domains in a population-based sample of 130 male and 178 female twins. Pubertal testosterone was negatively associated with performance in the Mental Rotation Test in young adult men (r = −.27), while among women no significant associations between testosterone and cognitive measures were detected. The significant association among men remained after controlling for pubertal development. Confirmatory within-family comparisons with one-sided significance testing yielded a negative correlation between twin pair differences in testosterone levels and Mental Rotation Test performances in 35 male twin pairs (r = −.32):the twin brother with higher testosterone performed less well on the Mental Rotation Test. That association was evident in18 pairs of dizygotic male twin pairs (r = −.42; analysis controlling for shared environmental effects). In contrast, the association of differences was not evident among 17 monozygotic male twin pairs (r = −.07; analysis controlling for shared genetic influences). Results suggest that pubertal testosterone levels are related specifically to male-favoring spatial ability and only among men. Within-family analyses implicated possible shared genetic effects between pubertal testosterone and mental rotation ability.
PMCID: PMC3670426  PMID: 22520299
Mental Rotation Test; Pubertal development; Sex difference; Spatial ability; Testosterone
14.  Age and estrogen-based hormone therapy affect systemic and local IL-6 and IGF-1 pathways in women 
Age  2011;34(5):1249-1260.
A thorough understanding of the role of estrogens on aging-related muscle weakness is lacking. To clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on skeletal muscle, we analyzed systemic protein and local mRNA levels of factors related to interleukin 6 (IL-6) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) pathways in 30- to 35-year-old (n = 14) women (without hormonal contraceptives) and in 54- to 62-year-old monozygotic female twin pairs discordant for HRT (n = 11 pairs, mean duration of HRT 7.3 ± 3.7 years). Biopsies were taken from vastus lateralis muscle and from abdominal adipose tissue. We found, first, that the systemic levels of IL-6 receptors sIL-6R and sgp130 are sensitive to both age and HRT concomitant with the changes in body composition. The serum levels of sgp130 and sIL-6R were 16% and 52% (p ≤ 0.001 for both variables) higher in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women, and 10% and 9% lower (p = 0.033 and p < 0.001, respectively) in the HRT using than in their non using co-twins. After adjustment for body fat amount, the differences were no more significant. Second, the transcript analyses emphasize the impact of adipose tissue on systemic levels of IL-6, sgp130 and sIL6R, both at pre- and postmenopausal age. In muscle, the most notable changes were 28% lower gene expression of IGF-1 splice variant Ea (IGF-1Ea) and 40% lower expression of splice variant Ec (IGF-1Ec) in the postmenopausal non-users than in premenopausal women (p = 0.016 and 0.019, respectively), and 28% higher expression of IGF1-receptor in HRT users than in non-users (p = 0.060). The results tend to demonstrate that HRT has positive anti-catabolic effect on aging skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3448994  PMID: 21845403
Aging; Estrogen-based hormone therapy; Inflammation; Skeletal muscle; IL-6; IGF-1
15.  Genome-wide association analysis identifies susceptibility loci for migraine without aura 
Nature genetics  2012;44(7):777-782.
Migraine without aura is the most common form of migraine, characterized by recurrent disabling headache and associated autonomic symptoms. To identify common genetic variants for this migraine type, we analyzed genome-wide association data of 2,326 clinic-based German and Dutch patients and 4,580 population-matched controls. We selected SNPs from 12 loci with two or more SNPs with P-values < 1 × 10−5 for follow-up in 2,508 patients and 2,652 controls. Two loci, i.e. 1q22 (MEF2D) and 3p24 (near TGFBR2) replicated convincingly (P = 4.9 × 10−4, P = 1.0 × 10−4, respectively). Meta-analysis of the discovery and replication data yielded two additional genome-wide significant (P < 5 × 10−8) loci in PHACTR1 and ASTN2. In addition, SNPs in two previously reported migraine loci in or near TRPM8 and LRP1 significantly replicated. This study reveals the first susceptibility loci for migraine without aura, thereby expanding our knowledge of this debilitating neurological disorder.
PMCID: PMC3773912  PMID: 22683712
16.  Genetic and Environmental Influences on Pubertal Timing Assessed by Height Growth 
Secular trends towards earlier puberty, possibly caused by new environmental triggers, provide a basis for periodic evaluation of the influence and interaction of genetic and environmental effects on pubertal timing. In such studies, a practical marker that reflects timing of puberty in both genders needs to be used. We investigated genetic and environmental influences on pubertal timing by using change in the relative height between early and late adolescence (HD:SDS, height difference in standard deviations) as a new marker of pubertal timing. HD:SDS correlated well with age at peak height velocity in a population of men and women with longitudinal growth data. In 2,309 twin girls and 1,828 twin boys, HD:SDS was calculated between height SDs at age 11.5 and 17.5, and 14.0 and 17.5 years, respectively. Quantitative genetic models for twin data were fitted to estimate the genetic contribution to HD:SDS. We also investigated whether the same genetic factors influenced individual differences between HD:SDS and development of secondary sex characteristics prospectively collected by pubertal development scale (PDS). Genetic effects contributed to 86 and 82% of the variance in HD:SDS in girls and boys, respectively, when using the same model including additive genetic and specific environmental factors. In girls, 30% and in boys, 49% of the genetic factors affecting PDS and HD:SDS were the same. Future comparison of the results of periodic evaluations allows estimation of possible changes in the effects of environment on timing of puberty. In such studies, HD:SDS can be used as a practical marker of pubertal timing.
PMCID: PMC3769165  PMID: 18293372
17.  Risk Factors and Their Combined Effects on the Incidence Rate of Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73760.
Prospective studies on the risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) are limited. Moreover, the effect of risk factors on the incidence rates of SAH is not well known about.
In this study, we aimed to identify risk factors for SAH and characterize subgroups in a population with a high incidence of SAH.
After recording multiple potential risk factors for SAH at the time of enrolment, first ever SAH events between 1972 and 2009 were recorded through the nationwide Causes of Death Register and Hospital Discharge Register for the population-based cohort of 64 349 participants, who participated in the National FINRISK Study between 1972 and 2007 in Finland.
During the follow-up time of 1.26 million person-years (median 17.9 years, range 0 to 37.9 years), 437 persons experienced fatal or non-fatal SAH. Crude SAH incidence was 34.8 (95% confidence interval: 31.7–38.2) per 100 000 person-years among ≥25-year-old persons. Female sex, high blood pressure values and current smoking were confirmed as risk factors for SAH. Previous myocardial infarction, history of premature stroke (any kind) in mother and elevated cholesterol levels in men were identified as new risk factors for SAH. Depending on the combination of risk factors, SAH incidence varied between 8 and 171 per 100 000 person-years.
New and previously reported risk factors appear to have a much stronger association with the incidence of SAH than is ordinarily seen in cardiovascular diseases. Risk factor assessments may facilitate the identification of high-risk persons who should be the focus of preventive interventions.
PMCID: PMC3767622  PMID: 24040058
18.  Impact of Common Variation in Bone-Related Genes on Type 2 Diabetes and Related Traits 
Diabetes  2012;61(8):2176-2186.
Exploring genetic pleiotropy can provide clues to a mechanism underlying the observed epidemiological association between type 2 diabetes and heightened fracture risk. We examined genetic variants associated with bone mineral density (BMD) for association with type 2 diabetes and glycemic traits in large well-phenotyped and -genotyped consortia. We undertook follow-up analysis in ∼19,000 individuals and assessed gene expression. We queried single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with BMD at levels of genome-wide significance, variants in linkage disequilibrium (r2 > 0.5), and BMD candidate genes. SNP rs6867040, at the ITGA1 locus, was associated with a 0.0166 mmol/L (0.004) increase in fasting glucose per C allele in the combined analysis. Genetic variants in the ITGA1 locus were associated with its expression in the liver but not in adipose tissue. ITGA1 variants appeared among the top loci associated with type 2 diabetes, fasting insulin, β-cell function by homeostasis model assessment, and 2-h post–oral glucose tolerance test glucose and insulin levels. ITGA1 has demonstrated genetic pleiotropy in prior studies, and its suggested role in liver fibrosis, insulin secretion, and bone healing lends credence to its contribution to both osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. These findings further underscore the link between skeletal and glucose metabolism and highlight a locus to direct future investigations.
PMCID: PMC3402303  PMID: 22698912
19.  Shorter Adult Stature Increases the Impact of Risk Factors for Cognitive Impairment: A Comparison of Two Nordic Twin Cohorts 
We analyzed the association between mean height and old age cognition in two Nordic twin cohorts with different childhood living conditions. The cognitive performance of 4720 twin individuals from Denmark (mean age 81.6 years, SD = 4.59) and Finland (mean age 74.4 years, SD = 5.26) was measured using validated cognitive screens. Taller height was associated with better cognitive performance in Finland (β-estimates 0.18 SD/10cm, p value < .001, for men and 0.13 SD, p = .008, for women), but this association was not significant in Denmark (β-estimates 0.0093 SD, p value = .16, for men and 0.0075 SD, p value = .016, for women) when adjusted for age and education/social class. Among Finnish participants higher variability of cognitive performance within shorter height quintiles was observed. Analysis using gene-environment interaction models showed that environmental factors exerted a greater impact on cognitive performance in shorter participants, whereas in taller participants' it was explained mainly by genetic factors. Our results suggest that shorter participants with childhood adversity are more vulnerable to environmental risk factors for cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC3695305  PMID: 22506310
twins; genetics; height; cognition; dementia; risk factor
20.  Scrutiny of the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 smoking behavior locus reveals a novel association with alcohol use in a Finnish population based study 
The CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene cluster on chromosome 15q25.1 encoding the cholinergic nicotinic receptor subunits is robustly associated with smoking behavior and nicotine dependence. Only a few studies to date have examined the locus with alcohol related traits and found evidence of association with alcohol abuse and dependence. Our main goal was to examine the role of three intensively studied single nucleotide polymorphisms, rs16969968, rs578776 and rs588765, tagging three distinct loci, in alcohol use. Our sample was drawn from two independent Finnish population-based surveys, the National FINRISK Study and the Health 2000 (Health Examination) Survey. The combined sample included a total of 32,592 adult Finns (54% women) of whom 8,356 were assessed for cigarettes per day (CPD). Data on alcohol use were available for 31,812 individuals. We detected a novel association between rs588765 and alcohol use defined as abstainers and low-frequency drinkers versus drinkers (OR=1.15, p=0.00007). Additionally, we provide precise estimates of strength of the association between the three loci and smoking quantity in a very large population based sample. As a conclusion, our results provide further evidence for the nicotine-specific role of rs16969968 (locus 1). Further, our data suggest that the effect of rs588765 (locus 3) may be specific to alcohol use as the effect is seen also in never smokers.
PMCID: PMC3709115  PMID: 23875064
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; 15q25.1; alcohol use; smoking behavior; public health; population-based sample; genetic association
21.  Analysis of Detailed Phenotype Profiles Reveals CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 Gene Cluster Association With Several Nicotine Dependence Traits 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2012;14(6):720-733.
The role of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster on chromosome 15q24-25 in the etiology of nicotine dependence (ND) is still being defined. In this study, we included all 15 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 cluster and tested associations with 30 smoking-related phenotypes.
The study sample was ascertained from the Finnish Twin Cohort study. Twin pairs born 1938–1957 and concordant for a history of cigarette smoking were recruited along with their family members (mainly siblings), as part of the Nicotine Addiction Genetics consortium. The study sample consisted of 1,428 individuals (59% males) from 735 families, with mean age 55.6 years.
We detected multiple novel associations for ND. DSM-IV ND symptoms associated significantly with the proxy SNP Locus 1 (rs2036527, p = .000009) and Locus 2 (rs578776, p = .0001) and tolerance factor of the Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale (NDSS) showed suggestive association to rs11636753 (p = .0059), rs11634351 (p = .0069), and rs1948 (p = .0071) in CHRNB4. Furthermore, we report significant association with DSM-IV ND diagnosis (rs2036527, p = .0003) for the first time in a Caucasian population. Several SNPs indicated suggestive association for traits related to ages at smoking initiation. Also, rs11636753 in CHRNB4 showed suggestive association with regular drinking (p = .0029) and the comorbidity of depression and ND (p = .0034).
We demonstrate novel associations of DSM-IV ND symptoms and the NDSS tolerance subscale. Our results confirm and extend association findings for other ND measures. We show pleiotropic effects of this gene cluster on multiple measures of ND and also regular drinking and the comorbidity of ND and depression.
PMCID: PMC3356294  PMID: 22241830
22.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies confirms a susceptibility locus for knee osteoarthritis on chromosome 7q22 
Evangelou, Evangelos | Valdes, Ana M. | Kerkhof, Hanneke J.M | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Zhu, YanYan | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Lories, Rik J. | Karassa, Fotini B. | Tylzanowski, Przemko | Bos, Steffan D. | Akune, Toru | Arden, Nigel K. | Carr, Andrew | Chapman, Kay | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Dai, Jin | Deloukas, Panos | Doherty, Michael | Doherty, Sally | Engstrom, Gunnar | Gonzalez, Antonio | Halldorsson, Bjarni V. | Hammond, Christina L. | Hart, Deborah J. | Helgadottir, Hafdis | Hofman, Albert | Ikegawa, Shiro | Ingvarsson, Thorvaldur | Jiang, Qing | Jonsson, Helgi | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kawaguchi, Hiroshi | Kisand, Kalle | Kloppenburg, Margreet | Kujala, Urho M. | Lohmander, L. Stefan | Loughlin, John | Luyten, Frank P. | Mabuchi, Akihiko | McCaskie, Andrew | Nakajima, Masahiro | Nilsson, Peter M. | Nishida, Nao | Ollier, William E.R. | Panoutsopoulou, Kalliope | van de Putte, Tom | Ralston, Stuart H. | Rivadeneira, Fernado | Saarela, Janna | Schulte-Merker, Stefan | Slagboom, P. Eline | Sudo, Akihiro | Tamm, Agu | Tamm, Ann | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Tsezou, Aspasia | Wallis, Gillian A. | Wilkinson, J. Mark | Yoshimura, Noriko | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Zhai, Guangju | Zhang, Feng | Jonsdottir, Ingileif | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Felson, David T | van Meurs, Joyce B. | Stefansson, Kari | Ioannidis, John P.A. | Spector, Timothy D.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;70(2):349-355.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and accounts for substantial morbidity and disability, particularly in the elderly. It is characterized by changes in joint structure including degeneration of the articular cartilage and its etiology is multifactorial with a strong postulated genetic component. We performed a meta-analysis of four genome-wide association (GWA) studies of 2,371 knee OA cases and 35,909 controls in Caucasian populations. Replication of the top hits was attempted with data from additional ten replication datasets. With a cumulative sample size of 6,709 cases and 44,439 controls, we identified one genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 7q22 for knee OA (rs4730250, p-value=9.2×10−9), thereby confirming its role as a susceptibility locus for OA. The associated signal is located within a large (500kb) linkage disequilibrium (LD) block that contains six genes; PRKAR2B (protein kinase, cAMP-dependent, regulatory, type II, beta), HPB1 (HMG-box transcription factor 1), COG5 (component of oligomeric golgi complex 5), GPR22 (G protein-coupled receptor 22), DUS4L (dihydrouridine synthase 4-like), and BCAP29 (the B-cell receptor-associated protein 29). Gene expression analyses of the (six) genes in primary cells derived from different joint tissues confirmed expression of all the genes in the joint environment.
PMCID: PMC3615180  PMID: 21068099
23.  Pubertal Timing and Growth Influences Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adult Males and Females 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(4):850-856.
Early pubertal onset in females is associated with increased risk for adult obesity and cardiovascular disease, but whether this relationship is independent of preceding childhood growth events is unclear. Furthermore, the association between male puberty and adult disease remains unknown. To clarify the link between puberty and adult health, we evaluated the relationship between pubertal timing and risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in both males and females from a large, prospective, and randomly ascertained birth cohort from Northern Finland.
Pubertal timing was estimated based on pubertal height growth in 5,058 subjects (2,417 males and 2,641 females), and the relationship between puberty and body weight, glucose and lipid homeostasis, and blood pressure at age 31 years was evaluated with linear regression modeling.
Earlier pubertal timing associated with higher adult BMI, fasting insulin, diastolic blood pressure, and decreased HDL cholesterol in both sexes (P < 0.002) and with higher total serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in males. The association with BMI and diastolic blood pressure remained statistically significant in both sexes, as did the association with insulin levels and HDL cholesterol concentrations in males after adjusting for covariates reflecting both fetal and childhood growth including childhood BMI.
We demonstrate independent association between earlier pubertal timing and adult metabolic syndrome-related derangements both in males and females. The connection emphasizes that the mechanisms advancing puberty may also contribute to adult metabolic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3308310  PMID: 22338106
24.  Genome-wide association study identifies multiple loci influencing human serum metabolite levels 
Nature genetics  2012;44(3):269-276.
Nuclear magnetic resonance assays allow for measurement of a wide range of metabolic phenotypes. We report here the results of a GWAS on 8,330 Finnish individuals genotyped and imputed at 7.7 million SNPs for a range of 216 serum metabolic phenotypes assessed by NMR of serum samples. We identified significant associations (P < 2.31 × 10−10) at 31 loci, including 11 for which there have not been previous reports of associations to a metabolic trait or disorder. Analyses of Finnish twin pairs suggested that the metabolic measures reported here show higher heritability than comparable conventional metabolic phenotypes. In accordance with our expectations, SNPs at the 31 loci associated with individual metabolites account for a greater proportion of the genetic component of trait variance (up to 40%) than is typically observed for conventional serum metabolic phenotypes. The identification of such associations may provide substantial insight into cardiometabolic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3605033  PMID: 22286219
25.  Body mass index and subjective well-being in young adults: a twin population study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:231.
Body mass index (BMI) is associated with subjective well-being. Higher BMI is believed to be related with lower well-being. However, the association may not be linear. Therefore, we investigated whether a nonlinear (U-shaped) trend would better describe this relationship, and whether eating disorders might account for the association in young adults.
FinnTwin16 study evaluated multiple measures of subjective well-being, including life satisfaction, General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-20), satisfaction with leisure time, work, and family relationships, and satisfaction with sex life in young adulthood in the 1975–79 birth cohorts of Finnish twins (n=5240). We studied the relationship between indicators of subjective well-being and BMI both in full birth cohorts and in subgroups stratified by lifetime DSM-IV eating disorders.
We found an inverse U-shaped relationship between all indicators of subjective well-being and BMI in men. There was no overall association between BMI and subjective well-being in women. However, there was an inverse U-shaped relationship between BMI and indicators of subjective well-being in women with a lifetime eating disorder and their healthy female co-twins. Subjective well-being was optimal in the overweight category.
Both underweight and obesity are associated with impaired subjective well-being in young men. The BMI reflecting optimal subjective well-being of young men may be higher than currently recognized. Categorization of body weight in terms of BMI may need to be reassessed in young men. BMI and subjective well-being are related in women with a lifetime eating disorder, but not in the general population of young women.
PMCID: PMC3691623  PMID: 23496885
Body mass index; Subjective well-being; Life satisfaction; GHQ-20; Eating disorders; Twin study

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